Sunday, 25 September 2022

News

LAKE COUNTY – A young Iraq war vet is heading off to a Sacramento treatment center where officials say he'll be able to receive treatment for the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that has troubled him since his return from the war.


The case of Derick Hughes, 21, of Upper Lake was chronicled in Lake County News this spring.


Hughes, a Marine, saw fierce fighting while in Iraq. On Dec. 1, 2005, 10 of his platoon members were killed by a roadside bomb during a promotion ceremony. During his tour he also suffered a dislocated shoulder.


A drug problem that followed Hughes through his service resulted in his eventual discharge once he returned to the states. He received no treatment for his shoulder and no help for the PTSD which resulted from the December 2005 incident. Once stateside, he was diagnosed with PTSD.


Last December, during a traffic stop, a Lake County Sheriff's deputy found Hughes in possession of a bat and Marine body armor panels that were later determined to be Marine property and stolen.


His attorneys, Steven and Angela Carter, took the bold step of sharing his case with the public, because they believe that Hughes is the perfect example of someone convicted of nonviolent crimes who, with the proper counseling and help, can become a contributing member of society.


Local veterans groups like the North Bay Veterans Resource Centers, a division of Vietnam Veterans of America, and Vietnam Veterans of America became advocates of Hughes as well. Many local Vietnam vets said they saw in Hughes symptoms and struggles that they had faced after returning home as young men from Vietnam.


On April 30, Judge Richard Martin found Hughes guilty of felony possession of stolen property and sentenced him to 280 days in jail, with 90 days time served.


Martin offered Hughes the chance to attend a North Bay Veterans Resource Center treatment program, in Sacramento, where he'll receive help for his PTSD and drug issues while receiving day-for-day credit against his jail time.


Treatment rather than jail


One of the people actively advocating behind the scenes to get Hughes into a treatment center is Marcy Orosco.


Orosco is the Director of Workforce and Housing Services, for North Bay Veterans Resource Centers, a division of VVC. Their local service area includes Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma counties.


She took an active interest in Hughes' case, because she, too, believes his case is an example of where treatment is a better choice than jail. Also, Orosco was well prepared and informed of the legislation for vets passed in March of 2006, AB 2586, which allows the court to consider treatment programs as part of probation in cases involving military veterans who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse or psychological problems stemming from their military service.


Orosco works with about 50 local vets of all eras and demographics through the Veteran's Employment Assistance Program and Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.


Those programs, Orosco explains, advocate for vets to receive and follow through with PTSD assistance and drug treatment, leading to employment and workforce development


Local vets suffering from PTSD seek assistance through county programs in Lake and Ukiah, which then sends them for individual treatment with a psychiatrist or groups said Orosco. VVC is located in 8 counties with housing, substance abuse treatment, case management, and advocacy with live-in treatment centers in Sacramento, Eureka and Petaluma.


NBVRC, a division of VVC also hopes to introduce permanent housing and treatment programs in both Lake and Mendocino counties.


Not long after Hughes originally was sentenced, Orosco helped secure him a bed at the Sacramento Veterans Resource Center, which is a long-term treatment facility which can work with special parameters set up by the local court.


But while Orosco and the Carters believed Hughes was headed for the center in June, a no-bail hold was placed on him by Deputy District Attorney Art Grothe, who had handled Hughes' original prosecution.


Back in court


Grothe, who also is reported to have served in Iraq in the National Guard, charged Hughes with a parole violation for having in his jail locker 48 small balloons, an extra spork (a plastic eating utensil that's a combined spoon and a fork) and a packet of mayonnaise. Grothe alleged that Hughes was planned to use the balloons to transport drugs. The materials were reportedly discovered May 5.


In the meantime, Hughes lost his place at the treatment center, was moved from his place in the jail's workers pod and returned to Martin's courtroom for a hearing July 6.


Another inmate, Raleigh Martin, claimed the balloons were used for water balloon fights to celebrate when inmates were released.


Grothe intimated that Martin, by admitting that he had taken part in such fights, was incriminating himself and could lose good behavior credits.


He also accused Hughes and another inmate of trying to run Pod I and said they had slapped around other inmates.


Steven Carter objected. "That's completely false," he said.


Carter pointed out no drug residue was found on the balloons, and argued that Grothe hadn't proved his case.


More importantly, Carter said he had never seen a jail inmate be brought up on a violation of parole charge for having contraband in his 14 years as a defense attorney in Lake County.


Grothe argued that Hughes' "long and demonstrated history of substance abuse" had given rise to his belief that the materials were to be used for smuggling drugs.


In the end, Judge Martin wasn't wholly convinced by either side.


Martin said that it's clear that such balloons are used for smuggling drugs. However, he pointed to one very large hole in the prosecution's case, which was whether the materials actually belonged to Hughes.


Martin pointed out that many other inmates – between 100 and 200 – had access to the locker, and that it's common for jail inmates to hide contraband in other peoples' lockers.


The judge found Hughes not guilty of the parole violation, but told him he had been looking at three years and eight months in prison if he had been convicted.


Next stop: Sacramento treatment center


Martin told Hughes he was concerned that he wasn't carefully following the jail rules, and was going to end up ruining his chances to start over and get treatment in a care facility.


"You need to sit down and take stock of where you're at," said Martin. "You need to take care of business."


Orosco, who was in the audience for the hearing, was called to the witness stand, where she explained the Sacramento Veterans Resource Center treatment program, and told the court Hughes had another bed lined up for him, but he needed to be able to report there by the end of July at the latest.


Grothe said he wanted Hughes' parole conditions modified to require adherence to all the facility's rules. Hughes' failure to follow the rules could end up in a parole violation.


Martin warned Hughes that if he's caught with drugs, the implications will be serious.


In the end, the judge wished the young vet good luck, and cautioned him to deal with his drug problem. "If you don't deal with it, it's going to come back to bite you."


The Carters and Orosco report that Hughes is due to be transported to the Sacramento facility any day.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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LAKE COUNTY Increasing southwest winds combined with an unseasonably strong low pressure system off the coast will sweep a chance of rain into Lake County overnight bringing cooler temperatures for today and tomorrow, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento (NWS).


But until that happens, a red flag warning for fire danger has been issued due to the current low humidity and increasing winds by the NWS.


Breezy Southwest winds will blow in from the coast across interior California later today and into this evening bringing cooler temperatures and increasing clouds, NWS reported.


Scattered showers and a few thunderstorms may occur in the evening and overnight in Lake County. Tomorrow will be overcast with a 40 percent chance of light rain, predicts the NWS.


The NWS predicts a return to warmer and drier conditions which are more typical by the end of the week.


E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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LUCERNE – California Water Service (CWS), which owns the Lucerne water district as part of its Redwood Valley District, has filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for a 21.3 percent rate increase, to become effective on July 1, 2008 or later, and a 3.4-percent increase the following year.


In its announcement of the application, which covers several other districts, the company said that for the average residential customer using 7 Ccf (700 cubic feet), or 5,236 gallons, of water per month, the monthly water bill would be $14.31 (48 cents per day) higher the first year and $2.76 (9 cents per day) higher the following year.


The application is for review of CWS centralized services costs, which were last reviewed in 2004. The company said costs for centralized services provided to all districts have increased, including those for water quality testing, engineering, maintenance, information systems, accounting, and conservation

programming. After the CPUC reviews these costs, Cal Water will be allowed to allocate them proportionally to all districts.


The CPUC recently adopted a streamlined processing plan to review Cal Water’s entire operations starting in 2009. The current application is an interim request to transition to the new schedule.


Among increased costs the company hopes to cover with the new rates are: Increased allocated company benefits costs for health care, pension, and retiree health care,$25.5 million; increased other general expenses, $8.3 million, and increased allocated general payroll expense, $8.3 million.


Lucerne Community Water Organization (LCWO), which intervened in the company's last rate increase request, is reviewing the current application. At its monthly meeting Thursday, July 12, LCWO made no decision on whether to intervene in the current request. Scheduling decisions made on Thursday by an administrative law judge for the CPUC are not yet available. LCWO's next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 9, 7 p.m. at the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center,Country Club Drive at 10th Ave.


The company's proposed schedule would open settlement negotiations on December 26, 2007, with hearings before the CPUC in San Francisco from January 11 through 15, 2008.


In an apparent effort to avoid the kind of public outcry which occurred in Lucerne in 2005 when CWS announced its request for a 273-percent rate increase, the company is asking that some increases be deferred and recovered subsequently.


It requests “authority to institute a rate deferral with subsequent recovery for the Salinas and Visalia districts to avoid rate shock issues associated with requested large percentage increases. Applicant requests recovery of $4,856,600 deferred from rates in Salinas by instituting a $0.126 surcharge on all water sold for a period of sixty months. Applicant requests recovery of $8,078,600 deferred from rates in Visalia by instituting a $0.111 surcharge on all water sold (and an equivalent flat rate surcharge) for a period of sixty months.”


The rate increases proposed in other districts covered by this application are:


  • Chico District by $6,380,400 or 49.1 percent in July 2008, $1,651,100 or 8.5percent in July 2009, and by $1,651,100 or 7.9 percent in July 2010;


  • East Los Angeles District by $7,193,200 or 36.5 percent in July 2008, $2,034,800 or 7.6 percent in July 2009, and $2,034,800 or 7.0percent in July 2010;


  • Livermore District by $3,960,900 or 31.2 percent in July 2008, $942,200 or 5.6 percent in July 2009, and by $942,200 or 5.4 percent in July 2010;


  • Los Altos-Suburban District by $5,172,500 or 30.5 percent in July 2008, $1,189,100 or 5.4 percent in July 2009, and by $1,189,100 or 5.1 percent in July 2010;


  • Mid-Peninsula District by $5,435,100 or 23.7 percent in July 2008, $1,634,200 or 5.8 percent in July 2009, and by $1,634,200 or 5.5 percent in July 2010;


  • Salinas District by $5,119,700 or 29.8 percent in July 2008, $3,636,900 or 16.3 percent in July 2009, and by $2,271,300 or 8.7 percent in July 2010;


  • Stockton District by $7,474,600 or 29.0 percent in July 2008, $1,422,400 or 4.3 percent in July 2009, and by $1,422,400 or 4.1 percent in July 2010;


  • Visalia District by $3,651,907 or 28.4 percent in July 2008, $3,546,440 or 21.3 percent in July 2009, and by $3,620,482 or 17.6 percent in July 2010.


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LUCERNE – A three-car collision Wednesday evening resulted in injuries to several people – some of whom were seriously hurt – and a highway closure.


The accident was reported at 7:12 p.m. on Highway 20 east of the Paradise Cove subdivision near Lucerne, according to the California Highway Patrol's incident logs.


CHP reported the three vehicles involved were a red Ford Ranger pickup, a white pickup and a yellow vehicle, which the logs reported as a Firebird but which Lucerne resident George Dorner, who was traveling through the area, said appeared to be a Camaro.


Dorner said it appeared that the Ranger had hit the yellow car head-on. The Ranger was lying on its left side and one seriously injured person appeared to by partially underneath it, he said.


Six people were injured, he said, with the road shut down and traffic backed up some distance in both directions.


Northshore Fire Protection District units from Lucerne and Clearlake Oaks, Cal Fire, CHP and the Lake County Sheriff's Office were on the scene, reported Dorner.


Three ambulances were called over the radio, with one air ambulance requested. A second air ambulance was canceled.


One person was airlifted to Santa Rose Memorial Hospital, where authorities planned to conduct a blood draw, according to the CHP logs.


Animal Care and Control had to be contacted to deal with a vicious dog at the scene, and Caltrans was called to bring sand for oil spilled in the road.


CHP reported that major injuries were involved, but no further information about the victims, their identities or the extent of their injuries was available Wednesday night.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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The Ely Stage Stop will soon begin its historic move to its new home along Soda Bay Road, where it will be the centerpiece of a new museum. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 

KELSEYVILLE – A long-held dream of many local history lovers is beginning to take shape.


Within the next two weeks, the Ely Stage Stop – believed to be one of the county's oldest stick-built buildings – will begin its move from its current location along Highway 29 to its new home as a museum on Soda Bay Road.


The stage stop was built around 1859 to 1860, said Eric Seely, the county's deputy redevelopment director.


Seely probably knows more about the stage stop than anyone. Since joining the county a year and a half ago, he's worked with the Lake County Historical Society to make the project a reality.


Before than, he worked for two years on the project while employed by Beckstoffer Vineyards – who owns the land where the building is currently located, and donated the building to the county.


Beckstoffer also donated a five-acre parcel and a one-acre easement along Soda Bay Road where the Ely Stage Stop and a new museum will be located.


The county will own the building, said Seely, but the historical society will operate it.


Seely and members of the historical society met at the museum site Friday evening to go over the project's status and walk the property.


It was the last of three public meetings in the process of developing the museum's master plan, Seely explained, which is necessary in order to finalize the site and get grading and building permits.


The stage stop building will set atop a hill along Soda Bay Road. Historical Society President Randy Ridgel pointed out that the view is to die for, and he's right: the museum will look out across a meadow framed with oak trees toward the slopes of Mt. Konocti.


“For a change, the actual site is more dramatic than the artist's rendition,” said Ridgel who, along with wife Jackie, have worked to make the dream a reality.


Below the museum, situated so as not to obstruct that incredible panorama, will sit four historic barns that will house historic farm equipment and other implements and displays, Seely said.


Greg Dills, who chairs the historical society's Ely Stage Stop committee, said they have one barn that needs to be moved by the end of August. He's also wrapping up negotiations on the other barns, he said.


The project won't be done all at once, Seely explained. “We're doing this project as funding permits. We're doing it in stages.”


The first phase will include the house move and installing a new roof, Seely said. Future phases will include a wraparound porch; the house's complete restoration with modifications to make it adhere to existing building code; and developing water, power and phone utilities.


“We're still looking at a couple of years,” he said.


The house originally didn't have a kitchen, said Seely; that was in a separate building. While they know a lot about the house, they haven't been able to find photos of it dating before the 1940s.


As much as possible, original materials are being saved for reuse. The house's chimney will eventually be reconstructed with the original bricks.


Two of the original windows are still extant, and will be used as template for new windows to replace missing windows, Seely said. Shortly after Beckstoffer donated the building, one of its largest windows, made with a type of wavy glass common in old homes, was broken by a vandal who tossed a brick through it.


The historical society, said Seely, has received “very substantial” financial contributions to support the stage stop museum. They've also received a lot of help in the form of volunteer time.


The house will begin its move this next week, Seely said. A Bay Area contractor who received the $60,000 contract to move the house will take it west to a staging point where it will be moved across the highway in preparation to travel cross country.


Officials including Caltrans, AT&T, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the county, the contractor who is moving the house and the subcontractor will meet at 10 a.m. July 18 at the site where the house will be moved across the highway to finalize their plans.


At about 6 a.m. Sunday, July 29, Highway 29 will be closed for a few hours as the house is moved across the highway, said Seely.


The next day, Monday, July 30, the house will begin its trek overland, Seely said, moving around springs, crossing one creek on a specially constructed bridge, and continuing to its hilltop location.


“The big day is going to be the final push up the hill,” said Seely.


The house move is likely to last about a week in total, Seely estimated.


To learn more about how you can help the project, contact the historical society at its Web site, http://lakecountyhistory.org, or contact Seely at 263-2580.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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The view from the site where the stage stop building will sit. The land for the museum and the stage stop building were donated by Beckstoffer Vineyards. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

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Octavio Sanchez has been charged in a July 4 gang-related assault in Lakeport. Lake County Sheriff's booking photo.

 

LAKEPORT – A second suspect has been arrested in connection with a gang-motivated assault on a 14-year-old boy in Lakeport on July 4.


Lakeport Police Lt. Brad Rasmussen said investigators identified Ukiah resident Octavio Juan Sanchez, 20, as one of the subjects responsible for the assault, which took place as the 14-year-old and his brother walked along 11th Street.


Sanchez, Rasmussen reported, is a documented Norteno gang member with an extensive criminal history record, including prior arrests for assault with a deadly weapon, making threats, possession of a dangerous weapon and participating in a criminal street gang.


He's currently on parole with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for possessing drugs in a jail or prison, Rasmussen said.


Rasmussen explained that Lakeport Police sent their report on Sanchez to the District Attorney's Office on Wednesday. On Thursday, the District Attorney's Office filed a complaint on Sanchez that included charges for assault with a deadly weapon, battery with serious bodily injury, child abuse and criminal street gang enhancements.


The problem was, although police had Sanchez in their sites as a suspect, they were still trying to find him when the case was filed, said Rasmussen.


Then, just after midnight early Friday morning, the California Highway Patrol came across Sanchez after they found him during a traffic stop. He was acting strangely, said Rasmussen, so CHP arrested him for public intoxication and took him to the Lake County Jail on a parole hold.


“We don't know what he was doing in Kelseyville last night,” Rasmussen said on Friday.


Officer served the arrest warrant on Sanchez in the Lake County Jail Friday afternoon, according to Rasmussen.


Rasmussen said gang investigators from Ukiah helped Lakeport Police identify Sanchez. “We've also identified two other Norteno gang members as having been involved,” he added.


Police are still building their case against those individuals, he said, but he anticipates more arrests are in the works.


Sanchez and the other two Ukiah residents are members of the Aztec Cholos – or ATC – that are a Nortenos subgroup, said Rasmussen.


The three suspects have a connection to a 16-year-old male juvenile, also a documented Norteno gang member with an extensive arrest history, who was arrested not long after the incident for assault with a deadly weapon, said Rasmussen.


Although authorities don't know why these gang members were traveling back and forth to Lake County, Rasmussen said the gangs tend to be well organized, and are willing to travel to other areas to support each others' activities.


In past years, said Rasmussen, “We've seen examples of Surenos from Los Angeles coming to Lake County,” in order to visit friends and gang connections who had moved here.


The 16-year-old in custody is set to undergo a fitness hearing later this month, with the District Attorney's Office seeking to prosecute him as an adult, as Lake County News previously reported.


Rasmussen said police aren't sure just how many gang members they have in the Lakeport area, but added, “Some of our primary people are in custody.”


Meanwhile, on July 8, the 14-year-old assault victim died suddenly after having been involved in an automobile collision on July 6, just two days after the assault. Rasmussen said the boy's death doesn't change the facts of the case, and won't halt the prosecution continuing.


The investigation also is continuing, with Rasmussen, Det. Norm Taylor and Officers Jarvis Leishman or Destry Henderson working the case.


Police are seeking out additional witnesses to interview them about what they saw on July 4, Rasmussen said. Anyone with information should call Taylor, Leishman or Henderson at Lakeport Police, 263-5491.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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WASHINGTON, D.C. On Tuesday, Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA), John Murtha (D-PA), George Miller (D-CA) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced legislation to immediately begin redeploying troops out of Iraq while simultaneously working with the United Nations to implement a regionwide strategy for containing Iraq's civil war.


Thompson and his colleagues introduced this bill because they said there is no solid strategy for controlling the violence and political unrest in Iraq after U.S. troops redeploy.


The members of Congress said that it's clear to them that while U.S. troops are performing excellently, their ongoing presence in Iraq will not lead the Iraqi government to take control of its country. This bill will create a realistic exit strategy that brings our troops home and helps the Iraqi government take steps toward security.


This legislation – the Iraq Redeployment and Regional Security Act – specifically calls for redeployment of U.S. troops to commence no later than 30 days after enactment, with all troops out within one year.


It also requires that the president institutes a regional diplomatic plan, in conjunction with the United Nation's Security Council, to curtail and contain Iraq's civil war, prevent the establishment of al Qaeda safe havens and prevent genocide. The president must report to Congress every month on the status of the plan and the progress being made.


"Our troops have done an amazing job, but keeping them in the middle of a civil war will not get the Iraqi government any closer to securing and rebuilding their country,” said Thompson. “Moreover, without a plan to keep Iraq's civil war from spilling over to neighboring countries, the chaos in Iraq will multiply exponentially throughout the Middle East, putting the world in even greater danger. We must have a sound diplomatic strategy to contain Iraq's civil war or we will face consequences we can't even imagine."


"The time has come for Congress to hold the President accountable for his failed policy in Iraq,” added Matsui. “We can no longer talk about the need for change; the American people are calling for a new plan for Iraq, and this critical legislation takes action to answer that call. This Congress is committed to delivering on its promise of a new direction and a return to the priorities of our country."


All four original co-authors of this bill voted in favor of the Iraq bill introduced by Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO) and last week, which would force the president to begin redeployment of U.S. troops within 120 days of enactment, with American forces out no later than March 31, 2008. They continue to support that bill, as well.


The difference between the Skelton bill and the new bill, however, is two-fold: 1) This bill forces the president to begin withdrawal of American forces sooner than the other bill, and 2) this bill makes clear that the U.S. must engage the international community in the creation of a regional containment plan.


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LOWER LAKE – A fire that burned 100 acres of grassland beginning Sunday afternoon has been contained.


Cal Fire officials reported that firefighting crews finished the process of mopping up after the blaze on Monday, when the fire was finally out.


The fire was located near the Noble Ranch subdivision off of Spruce Grove Road.


No structures were damaged and no injuries reported, according to Cal Fire's incident command center.


The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Cal Fire reported.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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LAKE COUNTY – An emergency call that reported a potential hostage situation this week ended with arrests for marijuana cultivation.


A report from Lt. Cecil Brown of the Lake County Sheriff's Office explained that Ukiah resident Laurz Taylor Settera, 18, placed a 911 call on Wednesday at 8:35 a.m.


Laurz Settera reported that he and his father, Marcus Settera, 44, had been held in their home for four hours by two armed men, Brown reported. The young man also reported that the two men shot his father in leg, put his father in his father’s Jeep Grand Cherokee and drove him away from the home in Clearlake Oaks.


Brown reported that seven patrol deputy sheriffs began searching for Marcus Settera's vehicle, with one detective participating in the search from a helicopter.


Deputies contacted Laurz Settera, said Brown. They found him to be extremely excited, and difficult to understand. He had minor injuries, which he said he sustained while fleeing the residence.


The deputies went with Laurz Settera to the residence, where they found a significant marijuana growing operation inside the home. He told the deputies that he and his father lived in Ukiah and that they rented the home in Clearlake Oaks for the purpose of growing marijuana.


At 10:50 a.m. Wednesday, Sgt. James Beland and Deputy Thomas Andrews located the Jeep Grand Cherokee in Lucerne, Brown reported. They conducted a high risk stop of the Grand Cherokee, as they believed one or more suspects may be inside.


Deputies contacted Marcus Settera in the Grand Cherokee, according to Brown. He said that he had an appointment that morning, had been away from home for more than two hours, and hadn't been shot or abducted.


Settera added that he had not been confronted or held by armed men in his home, Brown reported.


Laurz Settera and Marcus Settera were arrested for cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sales. They were booked into the Lake County Jail, and have since posted bail.


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CHP said the teen who crashed her car into a Kelseyville laundromat early Tuesday is believed to have been driving under the influence. Courtesy photo.




KELSEYVILLE – The California Highway Patrol is investigating an early morning crash on Tuesday in which a car slammed into a laundromat.


A report from Officer Adam Garcia of the Clear Lake area CHP office said that at 4:35 a.m. Tuesday a 17-year-old female was driving a 2005 Ford car westbound on Gunn Street in Kelseyville at a high rate of speed.


Gunn said the girl lost control of the car and collided with a wooden fence on Gunn near Saderlund Street.


Garcia said the car then turned back across Gunn Street, traveled off the south road edge and collided with the Launderland Laundromat before coming to rest inside the building.


The collision caused major damage to the structure of the laundromat and total damage to her vehicle, according to Garcia.


The teen is believed to have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the collision, said Garcia. She was subsequently arrested for suspicion of DUI.

The investigation into the collision is continuing, Garcia reported, led by CHP Officer Steven Curtis.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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A Cal Fire helicopter drops water on the fire near Lower Lake Sunday. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

LOWER LAKE – A fire that broke out Sunday afternoon along Spruce Grove Road quickly spread to 100 acres in the area's rugged terrain.


Cal Fire spokesperson Suzie Blankenship said the fire was reported at 3:32 p.m. along Spruce Grove Road near the Noble Ranch subdivision, south of Lower Lake and four miles northeast of Middletown.


Cal Fire, South Lake Fire Protection District, Lakeport Fire Protection District and Lake County Fire Protection District responded, said Blankenship. A total of 10 engines, two helicopters, two air tankers, an air attack, four fire handcrews, three dozers and one water tender fought the blaze.


The fire quickly moved from a flat area into steep terrain, said Blankenship, burning up grass and oak woodland and reaching 100 acres in size.


Firefighters on the ground and in the air struggled to control the spreading fires, which were several hundred yards apart yet close enough to impede the air strikes from both the helicopters and fixed wing tankers.


Dust devils raced across the flat lands, whipping up the wind and flames, and spreading the fire quickly over several more acres.


The tankers dropped retardant while the two helicopters scooped water from nearby ponds. The helicopters required refueling after flying for more than and hour and 45 minutes.


Several homes were threatened but Cal Fire reported that no structures were lost.


Blankenship reported Sunday evening that the fire was 50-percent contained.


Area residents at the scene reported hearing what they thought sounded like a power transformer exploding and reported seeing downed power lines. Witnesses also said fire was seen around the lines shortly thereafter.


However, Cal Fire's Blankenship said the fire's cause was still under investigation.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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The fire burned across flat land and up into more rugged hillside terrain. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

 

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Firefighters had to work quickly, as the wind whipped up the fire and helped it spread in the dry conditions. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

 

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Area residents trying to return home had to wait until fire officials gave them clearance. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

 

 

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Another shot of some of the burned acreage. Firefighters had the fire 50-percent contained Sunday evening. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, members of both houses of Congress reached out to help National Guard and Reserve physicians maintain their practices during lengthy overseas deployments.


Members of Congress introduced legislation that would exempt physicians serving in the Armed Forces overseas from a Medicare law that currently places a 60-day restriction on the amount of time one physician can fill in for a colleague on a leave of absence.


This limit creates serious hardship for physicians in the National Guard and Reserves, who are absent from their practices for longer than 60 days when they are called for active duty.


The House version was introduced by Representatives and Vietnam combat veterans Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Sam Johnson (R-TX), who authored the temporary version of the bill (HR 2429), which in May passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 422-0.


U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and U.S. Senate Republican Whip Trent Lott (R-MS) introduced the Senate version Wednesday.


"When our Reserve and Guard physicians are deployed, they don't just leave behind their families - they also leave their patients," said Thompson. "Doctors taking care of our troops overseas shouldn't have to worry that their patients aren't being cared for here at home. This bill will help thousands of physicians protect their patients and practices when they're called to serve."


"Every day members of the National Guard and Reserve are asked to put their jobs and their lives on hold to serve their country in harm's way overseas, and this includes thousands of doctors who save countless lives on the battlefield. The least Congress can do is ensure that, in leaving home, these brave men and women aren't also asked to sacrifice their medical practices," said Wyden. "I commend Congressman Thompson for his leadership and his commitment to passing this important legislation."


Medicare currently allows physicians to enter reciprocal billing arrangements, whereby replacement physicians can care for the absent physician's patients and bill Medicare accordingly.


However, these arrangements cannot last longer than a 60-day period. After 60 days, a second replacement must be found. Securing replacement physicians is an expensive and difficult process, especially for practices in remote and rural areas.


Physicians who cannot secure multiple replacements during their absence can either lose their patients to other doctors or their patients must go without care.


HR 2429 suspends the 60-day cap for physicians filling in for members of the National Guard and Reserves who are called for duty through the rest of the calendar year.


This bill has been endorsed by the American Medical Association and is supported by the Reserve Officers Association.


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Upcoming Calendar

27Sep
09.27.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
27Sep
09.27.2022 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake
28Sep
09.28.2022 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Levee and flood risk workshop
29Sep
09.29.2022 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
1Oct
10.01.2022 7:00 am - 11:00 am
Sponsoring Survivorship annual walk and run
1Oct
10.01.2022 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
Konocti Challenge
1Oct
1Oct
10.01.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
1Oct
10.01.2022 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
20th annual Falling Leaves Quilt Show

Mini Calendar

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